Chapter 5. HTML Overview

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the language used to create web documents. It defines the syntax and placement of special instructions (tags) that aren’t displayed, but tell the browser how to display the document’s contents. It is also used to create links to other documents, either locally or over a network such as the Internet.

The HTML standard and all other Web-related standards are developed under the authority of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Standards, specifications, and drafts of new proposals can be found at The most recent work is the HTML 4.0 Specification, which is growing in support by major browsers.

In practice, the HTML “standard” is influenced heavily by the tags that are introduced and supported by the popular browsers, i.e., Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. These tags may or may not be part of the current HTML specification at any given time.

This chapter provides a basic introduction to the background and general syntax of HTML, including document structure, tags, and their attributes. It also looks briefly at good HTML style and the pros and cons of using WYSIWYG authoring tools.

For a more in-depth study of HTML, I recommend HTML: The Definitive Guide, Third Edition, by Chuck Musciano and Bill Kennedy (O’Reilly & Associates, 1998) Another excellent resource for HTML tag information is the HTML Compendium (created by Ron Woodall). The Compendium provides an alphabetical listing of every ...

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